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Workplace bullying

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Under workplace health and safety laws, your employer has significant obligations to provide a safe workplace, and that includes emotional and psychological safety, as well as physical safety.

A workplace that tolerates bullying, harassment, or serious overwork is not a safe workplace.

There is also a specific conduct rule that specifies that a lawyer must not engage in conduct that constitutes discrimination, sexual harassment or workplace bullying.

What you can do

Below is a list of actions you might wish to take if you feel you are experiencing bullying at work. The course of action you choose will depend on the nature of the bullying and your workplace.

  • If you can, tell the person the behaviour is unreasonable/inappropriate, that you are offended and want it to stop.
  • Get advice from your health and safety representative (HSR).
  • Keep a record of events that includes the names of people involved, for example, witnesses. Make sure the records focus on the facts of the situation, what happened, including dates and times and, if possible, copies of any documents.
  • Use the workplace or occupational health and safety (OHS) procedure to report the situation.
  • Seek professional counselling and/or advice.
  • Talk to people you trust at your workplace, for example, a supervisor, manager, HSR, union representative or someone from human resources.

WorkSafe has comprehensive information about workplace bullying and can provide information and support via their Advisory phone service.

There are also other agencies that can help:

  • Fair Work Commission
  • Fair Work Ombudsman
  • Victoria Legal Aid
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
  • Victoria Police
  • Beyond Blue
  • Lifeline

Reporting bullying to VLSB+C

Call us to talk through your options

Any lawyer facing difficulties in their workplace can call us, even anonymously, to discuss their situation.

Before you contact us to report an incident of workplace bullying by another lawyer, please read our guide on complaints by lawyers about lawyers.

Generally, employment disputes are not complaints that we handle. They should be resolved by other legal means or should be dealt with by other regulatory bodies such as the Fair Work Commission or Fair Work Ombudsman. However, serious matters may be investigated as a disciplinary matter, where there is serious harm or a breach of the rules.

Therefore, we would like to know about these incidents so we can assess whether a regulatory response is required (for example, matters involving sexual harassment or workplace bullying are of particular interest to us and may result in a compliance audit of the law practice or workplace).

You can let us know about your experience of workplace bullying by:

In some instances your report may result in a formal complaint. A member of our team will let you know if this applies to your situation.

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